As reported in official press release, Blizzard was unable to reach an agreement with NetEase, its game licensing and distribution partner in China. As a result, a number of the company’s games will become unavailable in this country starting January 23, 2023.
This applies to almost all current Blizzard games: World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch 2, Starcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Diablo III and Warcraft III: Reforged. Diablo Immortal is not listed because, according to netEase‘s official statement, its development and maintenance are carried out under a separate agreement and will continue.
Blizzard says it will halt sales of the games “in the coming days,” but says the next releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and Overwatch 2’s second season “will happen later this year” — without specifying exactly how it will be implemented.
NetEase has been publishing Blizzard games in China since 2008, but recently there have been differences in the relationship between the companies – yes, back in the summer it was reported that Blizzard has canceled mobile World of Warcraft, which was developed by the NetEase team, and this was due to the inability to agree on financial terms.
What will happen next for Blizzard games in China is still unknown – perhaps the company will still be able to come to terms with NetEase and conclude a new agreement, or perhaps the distribution rights will go to another Chinese publisher.